Keep Calm & Eat Cupcakes + Basic Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Hey, hey 🙂

How is everyone’s week going so far? I’m feeling pretty great in the second week of the Find Your Balance February challenge. This weekend was a perfect balance of indulgent and requirement. I made my very first from-scratch cupcakes for Meagan’s birthday: Chocolate Mint Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World!

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I was super excited to make them but super nervous at the same time. I read the book’s introduction to familiarize myself with necessary tools, ingredients & techniques. Then I read the ingredients and directions through about 10 times before heading to the grocery store. I bought everything I needed including a carrying tray and decorating kit then read the ingredients another 10 times.

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I baked the cupcakes on Friday night and used every ounce of restraint in my body not to eat half the batter. OOOOMG batter 😀

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I decorated them on Saturday morning and topped them off with a piece of Camino mint dark chocolate and used the remaining morsels of restraint I had not to stuff my face before they made it to Meag’s. OOOOMG icing 😀

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They were 100% approved by vegans (me) and non-vegans (everyone else) alike. Everyone said they never would have known they were vegan and I was even asked for the recipe. WIN!

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Usually when I enter into this kind of foreign activity I either totally win or totally womp. I’m going to pat myself on the back and say this one was a win 😉

On the requirement side of things, which I guess I need to share before you think I survived on only cupcakes for the rest of the weekend, I had some delicious smoothies packed with extra power foods like wheatgrass & raw cacao. Since we had pineapple in the house I couldn’t resist a Green-a-Colada and I also bought some frozen cherries to bring back my all-time favourite chocolate cherry bomb smoothie.

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I had a few killer workouts, especially the new BodyStep – holy crap! I did not think my heart rate would stay so high in the class I consider by B-level cardio. How have I not tested the Polar at BodyAttack yet?!

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I am also pretty proud of last week’s balance of yoga, strength & cardio workouts. Here’s my plan for this week:

Monday – BodyStep
Tuesday – BodyPump + CX Worx (core)
Wednesday – Hot Flow
Thursday – BodyAttack
Friday – Hot Yoga
Saturday – BodyPump OR solo weights session
Sunday – OFF 🙂

Now… since I’ve left your mouth totally water for cupcakes (how mean), I thought I’d share the recipe for Isa Chandra’s basic chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. They serve as the base for many of her cupcake recipes, including the chocolate mint. I’ve seen the recipe shared on several blogs & recipe sites including chow.com so I figured it was safe to share it here!

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Basic Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Makes 12 cupcakes

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (Dutch processed or regular)
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan (preferably aluminum) with paper or foil liners.
  2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
  3. Pour into liners, filling ¾ of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  4. Decorate accordingly.

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*LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Do not overfill cupcake liners. If your pouring results in 11 filled liners instead of 12 your cupcakes will be a little rounded on top and the icing won’t sit as nicely (i.e. it will droop to one side and might completely fall off… so then you will definitely have to eat that one…)
  • Using an aluminum pan will make softer, fluffier cupcakes than stainless steel muffin pans. Do the magnet test: If a magnet sticks, its not aluminum.
  • Sift, sift, sift. Do not rely on just mixing. The end result is so much better.
  • Let cool COMPLETELY before decorating. This is why I baked them the night before to avoid an impatient Lizzie 😉
  • I don’t recommend trying to make these gluten-free. Basic all-purpose flour results in a totally different final product if you ask me. Lucky for the gluten-sensitive there are gluten-free cupcake recipes in the book.
  • You can sub some whole-wheat pastry flour (not regular whole wheat flour) as per Isa’s recommendations in the book’s intro BUT whole wheat flour results in a more dense cupcake.

Go get em, Martha- I mean Isa! 😉

Liz xo

WIAW: So, what DO you eat?

Since going veg, I get asked all the time: What DO you eat?

Reaching my current lifestyle has been a slow process. I’ve made small but significant changes over the past 6 years and I was a very healthy eater before going completely plant-based last spring. The only major difference between then and now  is that I don’t eat any of the small amounts of chicken and fish I used to eat, I replaced my dairy products with dairy-free alternatives (in moderation) – Daiya, So Delicious, Tofutti, etc. – and I cut out eggs.

I probably eat a wider variety of foods than the average person, I definitely don’t have a problem getting enough calories, and I certainly have my fair share of sweet & savoury treats.

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There’s just something about the words plant-based and vegan that make people think you’re restricting yourself. The truth is that this lifestyle has been just the opposite, introducing me to a whole new world of food, health, & wellness possibilities!

Though it sometimes surprises me to be asked, “what DO I eat?”, a few years ago I would have asked my future-self the same question. SO, regardless of being a veg-head, what do I eat as part of a healthy, balanced diet to maintain my weight and feel good in my skin?

What gives me the energy to get through my crazy week of work, exercise, blogging, cooking, socializing, and bachelor watching?!

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I’ve been a huge fan of What I Ate Wednesday posts from the bloggers I regularly follow. I love knowing what my inspirations eat on a daily basis when they aren’t posting delicious recipes & product reviews. Here is my very first WIAW post, brought to you by my last home-office Friday:

Breakfast: Pumpkin Oats
1/2 cup oats, 1/3 cup pure pumpkin, 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
topped with 2 tbsp hemp granola, 1/2 tbsp almond butter & a little almond milk

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Mid-morning snack: banana + protein drink
1 scoop chocolate Sunwarrior, 1 tbsp raw cacao powder, 1 cup almond milk

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Lunch: Cafe Loka date with my boy
Vegan Your Day: Scrambled tofu w/ potatoes, veggies & spices w/ toast & side salad
black bean brownie for dessert (covered in almond butter when I got home ;).. )

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Afternoon snacks:
Almond Joy Energy Balls
handful of baby carrots + 2 tbsp hummus

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Dinner: The Big Vegan Bowl
greens topped w/ carrot, tomato, quinoa, avocado, hummus, & roasted chickpeas & sweet potato

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Evening Snack:
DIY water kefir & a {vegan} Pumpkin Quinoa Muffin

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So there you have it! A day of simple, healthy plant-based eats, at home & at a restaurant (for more tips on eating out, check out my post on Vegging Out at Conventional Restaurants).

What are some healthy weekday eats you’ve been into lately??

Liz xo

My Top 10 Favourite Healthy Cooking Tools

Hey friends 🙂

Hope you all had a lovely weekend! It was so nice to get home after traveling for the entire week. I did not feel like cooking so we went to Nirvana for dinner – my favourite! I had sweet potato & chickpea curry on quinoa and Ryan had the pizza.

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I was sure to get two super sweaty workouts in this weekend since my fitness is a bit sporadic when I’m on the road. It felt good to get a butt kicking BodyAttack in on Friday evening.

We had our team Christmas party for work in Saturday so I had another excuse to make my spinach & artichoke dip. Some of the wives are veggies too so our potluck was full of delicious, healthy, vegan options. Even one of the non-veg guys brought a vegan chocolate cake. It was approved & devoured by all 😉

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Today I am super excited to be guest posting over at Healthy Living Blogs as part of their December Healthy Living Tuesday features. Healthy Living Blogs aims to support the community of the healthy living blog world and its an excellent site for readers & bloggers alike to connect with new blogs & find new inspiration.

This month’s topic is “favourite healthy cooking tools” and you can read about my top 10 must-have kitchen gadgets here 🙂

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And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the winner of the Vega giveaway is:

Amanda Kilburn! 

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I will be contacting you via Facebook today and mailing your prize out this week! Thank you to everyone who entered & liked the Facebook page. I love inspiring people to live a more fit & healthy lifestyle & I am constantly inspired by others along the way.

Have a lovely week 🙂

Liz xo